STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
The Bruce Braley and Joni Ernst campaigns raised a combined $20,753,507, with outside spending and groups accounting for another $60,824,761. Meanwhile, the four district races added $12,003,964 to this number as of Oct. 30. No, those are not typos. Those numbers combine to equal $93,582,232, and have broke the $100 million mark by yesterday’s Election Day.
To put those into perspective, the amount of money spent on political races in Iowa alone could pay $30.29 to every Iowan. In Drake terms, this money could pay for nearly one-and-a-half STEM initiative projects.
Arthur Sanders, politics professor commented on the spending.
“As long as there are competitive races and our system remains one in which it’s very easy to dump unlimited amounts of money into a campaign, it will continue to increase,” Sanders said. “That is disturbing to many in the public who think one, it’s an absolute waste of money, and two, think that it leads to our political leaders being captive to those who are funding their campaigns.”
This is a topic of free speech, as Political Science Professor Dennis Goldford at Drake explained.
“According to the Supreme Court, money, in the sense of campaign donations, counts as speech and, obviously, people with money have a lot more speech than those without money,” Goldford said.
Both Goldford and Sanders mentioned that change would probably require a constitutional amendment.
“Anybody who doesn’t benefit from this isn’t going to get elected anyway,” Goldford said. “And, if you’re elected, by definition, you benefit from the status quo so why would you want to change that?”
Many political ads are negative, meaning they besmirch the opponent’s name. Both professors touched on this, a fact that causes some people to not vote.
“Highly negative tone leaves everybody disgusted and turned off with very little confidence in the government,” Goldford said.
This line of thinking alludes to why voter turnout is low in the U.S. as opposed to other countries, where political campaigns are more strictly regulated, Goldford went on to explain.
Another self-perpetuating cycle created by the current system is one in which candidates will run up the spending of the other. This is a trend that will, in all likelihood, continue with more money being spent every election cycle. Sanders outlined the thinking of a politician in this scenario.
‘“I have to keep spending more than I really need to because I don’t want to get drowned out by the other side and the other side is thinking the same thing, and so it escalates and you have this arms race,” Sanders said. “It’s very hard to get out of that … ‘If they’re buying more, I buy more.”’